the promises of AA

OK. It is official. Immanuel (God with us) has arrived into a world filled with heartache, hatred, poverty, fear and, oh yes-don’t forget the pandemic. Welcome, Jesus. Sorry, I could not clean up our mess for you.

Lord, sometimes it is just too much to process. That’s why we have you. Our Father gave you to us to set the standard, to show us how we are supposed to live in a loving humanity of brothers and sisters. Guide us in your ways. AMEN

We are blessed every day with breath, with heartbeat, with functioning bodies. We awaken each morning to the glorious beauty of Your creation. For those of us saved from the ravages of alcoholism and associated addictions, we remember what we did last night, where we were, whom we slept with and where we parked our truck when we came home. We awaken unashamed of last night’s activity and sure that our coming day will be filled with continuing peace and understanding. And we look forward to another day basking in the light of Jesus.

We anticipate fulfilment of the promises we have read in our recovery literature. The truth of sobriety is synonymous with the commitment to sober-living. It’s not only about “not drinking and using”. It’s about changing who we are, how we think, what we do and how we relate to the world. No longer are we individually the center of our universes. No longer do we fear social situations or financial difficulties. Sober-living leads us to an understanding which was impossible for us as drunks and addicts.

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to realize a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret our past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic adversity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, pgs 83-84

Are these extravagant promises? Absolutely not! Millions of recovering alcoholics living successfully and productively will testify to the results. Those results will always materialize if we work for them.

Living sober is not about the ‘right’ God or the ‘right’ theology. I choose the God of my youth, my religious tradition, to guide me through a world that assaults and profanes my innate sense of moral compass. Jesus is the North Star of that compass. Celebrating the birth renews and revitalizes a life-long faith tradition. But, each of us must find the “God of our understanding.”

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” STEP 3, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

Just another day?

Really?  Do I remember where I was last night, whom I was with, what I did?  Do I know where I parked my truck?  Am I reeking of stale cigarettes and whiskey?  Must I extend apologies (again) to my friends and family?

NO!  Today is not just another day.  Today is a spectacular day in the sobriety journey.  It is a day to rejoice and be grateful.

You and I are sober today – get up, get motivated and let’s give ourselves and our HPsober emoji a hand.

blessings – great & small

 

For breath and clean air to breathe,
for heartbeat and healthy flowing blood…
I am thankful.
For arms and legs that move,
for toes that wiggle…
I am thankful.

gratitude changes everything

For sobriety and the willingness to live soberly,
for a clear head and commitment to sane, rational thinking…
I am thankful.
For waking up knowing where I was last night,
for knowing what I did last night and where I parked my truck…
I am thankful.

Sober today?  Give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.sober emoji

gratitude changes everything

For breath and clean air to breathe,
for heartbeat and healthy flowing blood…
i am thankful.
For arms and legs that move,
for toes that wiggle…
i am thankful.

gratitude changes everythingcropped-pride7.png

A young friend recently migrated from Key West to north central Florida as a result of the changes covid-19 has inflicted upon him .  His entourage included a motor home, a motorcycle, a 28 foot boat, a pickup truck, a kayak, and a car – all of them accumulated possessions of a single, middle-aged man.

I do not begrudge anyone the toys they have amassed, but I do feel positively grateful that my life is completely full and content with a 24 year old pickup truck, a partner who loves me and a cat that still purrs his butt off sitting by my side.  I am blessed beyond anything deserved with a bed in which to sleep, a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my belly.

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW

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GRATITUDE APPLIED

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

Sober and serene today?  Give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.sober emoji

 

 

For breath and clean air to breathe
I am thankful
for heartbeat and healthy flowing blood
I am thankful
for arms and legs that move, toes that wiggle
I am thankful.

It doesn’t have to be an eloquent play on words or profound verse.  Those few, heartfelt words of thanks along with a cup of coffee first thing upon rising set the tone for the rest of the day.  Of course the gratitude list can be extensive or short as genuine thanksgiving fills us for the sober life given by the grace and mercy of a loving Higher Power.

In days past, my first thoughts upon rising were, “Oh damned, another day of struggle and despair.”

Not any more.  It would be easy to kick back and go there again, but today I have too much to live for and too much to lose.  I choose to live clean and serene for another day.  What’s on your gratitude list?

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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joy or misery – it’s a choice

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Let me repeat that.  In this new day we can choose to be joyful or we can choose to be miserable.  Within each of us is the power to wallow in this world’s drudgery or soar on wings of joy – and it is possible without the use of pharmaceuticals, alcohol, or any mind-altering substances.

“…..we are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness….we will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace…”  from the promises, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

The promises listed are not just fancy ideals written by a successful recovering alcoholic.  They are reality for millions of alcoholics who choose to follow a program of sober-living earnestly and honestly….“are these extravagant promises?  We think not!”  That, in a nutshell, is the beauty of our lifestyle.  Today, we have choices which were dismally not available before.  Joy or misery is one of those choices.

Alcoholism is a disease of the mind, of the body and of the soul.  It is cunning, baffling and powerful.  It wants to see you and I either in a mental institution or in the grave and it will not rest until it destroys us.  But, we have resources available that can conquer our disease.  For some it is Alcoholics Anonymous, for others it is Celebrate Recovery, still others discover sobriety through numerous spiritual programs.  They all present to us a way of changing our lives and living victoriously as new men and women.  They rebuke the power of alcohol in our lives and replace that demon with the power of choice.

The joy of living soberly is directly linked to an attitude of gratitude.  What is on this morning’s gratitude list?  Nothing?  Let’s think again.  Did we sleep in a warm, comfortable bed last night?  Do we remember this morning where we were last night, what we did?  Do we suffer from blackouts?  Are we filled with self-loathing because of what we did last night?  Were we unfaithful to our spouses?  Did we spend the family’s grocery money on booze?  Are we calling the boss and lying about why we will not be at work?  Yeah, we have much about which to be grateful, don’t we?

I suffer varying degrees of arthritis pain on a daily basis.  Many of us endure medical and physical conditions that limit activity.  Are we going to allow these maladies to diminish joyful living?  Absolutely not.  The pain I feel this morning is a reminder that my body is still alive and functioning.  When the day arrives that this body is not responsive to stimuli, good or bad, then I shall likely be dead.  And although that is neither good nor bad, I am not yet ready to be dead.

So let’s make our choices.  Will that choice be a joyful interaction with all that has been restored to us through the grace of recovery or will it be a miserable day of drudgery wallowing in the pit of negative thoughts and behavior?  Which will we choose?

UNSHACKLED 2

 

Carpe diem

smiley face 2

Hallelujah, it’s a new day, opportunity for a fresh start, the first day of the rest of your life.  C’mon, get out of bed, stretch your arms, say a few words of thanks for breath, for heartbeat, for arms and legs that move.  Hug your spouse, cat or dog and go brush your teeth.  While looking in the bathroom mirror, say to yourself, “you are wonderful, I love you.”

“Larry, it’s raining, the weather is dismal, my spouse is snoring, my back hurts, I was up too many times to pee, I am tired and I just want to snuggle up to my pillow and waste the day in bed.”

Okay, that also is an option.  Maybe tomorrow will be a better day – if you still have breath and a heartbeat tomorrow.  Do you realize the rarity of being alive this moment of  this day in the history of mankind?  Do you understand how precious this waking moment is, that any moment’s breath could be the last?  Do you?

CARPE DIEM!  Seize the day, it belongs to you.  Your Lord made it just for you.  We don’t have the luxury of rolling the dice and accepting anything that happens in this day.  Get out there and do something.  Learn something new.  A skill, a hobby, a new yoga practice, a delicious recipe for Caribbean chicken, an exciting writing idea.  Just do it.  Carpe diem.  Tomorrow could be too late.

Lounging in bed still sounding like a good idea?  Okay, try this.  Think of a friend in the hospital who can’t leave his bed, an elderly family member who’s confined to a wheelchair, the veteran who suffers debilitating PTSD, your neighbor who unsuccessfully attempted suicide last week?

God gave you this day to make a difference in your life or the life of another of his children.  Seize the moment and make it a spectacular testimony of a life well-lived and humbly appreciated.  And when that last breath of the last moment of the last day is upon us, may we hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

So get up, get moving!  It’s a beautiful day.

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HERE COMES THE SUN – give thanks

beautiful-cropland-dawn-1237119JONATHAN PETERSSON photographer

Somewhere in our world the sun is always rising – unfailingly.  It doesn’t need my permission or your approval.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do the same in our daily routine?

The most difficult part of my day are the first few hours upon rising.  Do I want to be awake?  Do I feel like swinging my legs over the bedside?  Will my first steps be pain filled or comfortable?  What should I do first?  What appointments do I have?  What chores must I do?

STOP!  Just stop.  Rewind the tapes and start over.  Let’s open eyes to the surroundings of a peaceful bedroom – the colors of the walls which are soft and relaxing, the whir of the ceiling fan bringing cool air to my face, the photos on the nightstand, the heirloom hanging on the wall, the cat quietly stretching and waking up with me, the smell of bacon being prepared by my spouse – it’s going to be a great day.  Ahhh, the anticipation of the first cup of fresh coffee.

No, don’t get up just yet.  Yes, of course there is time for a short gratitude list.  What am I grateful for this morning?  More importantly, whom am I grateful for?  Thank you for breath, for health, for peace, for companionship, for the roof over my head, for sobriety.  Now, sit up, stand up, fill those lungs with fresh air, feel the beat of a steadfast heart, raise those outstretched arms upward and thank the sun for shining on us, for making our earth a paradise for all to enjoy and a treasure to protect.

and now…from the wisdom of climate change deniers

Yes, there is a silver lining to the catastrophic melting of our polar ice caps…

“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.”  SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO during a presentation to the ARCTIC COUNCIL in Finland.

PLEASE GIVE 6 MINUTES OF YOUR TIME TO LOVE OUR EARTH

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poor, poor me

devil

“I am much better, thank you.”

“What’s that you say?  Larry, were you ill?”

“No.”

“Were you in an accident?”

“No, but thanks for asking.”

“Have you suffered a loss?  Did your cat die?  Have you become homeless?  Was your home burglarized?  Did a stray dog bite you?  Was you truck stolen?  Did your best friend desert you?  Have you switched political affiliation?  Is the devil sitting on your left shoulder?”

“No, no, no.  Nothing like that?”

I awakened this morning with an attitude that could have turned sweet milk sour and sent the sun in the sky ducking for cover behind the nearest clouds.  My mindset upon crawling out of bed was one that would not be coddled by cheery verses of inspiration or a breakfast of pancakes with fresh strawberry topping.  Nope, don’t bother me.  I am going to be miserable today, mope around the house and probably take a nap before noon time.  Then I will vegetate in front of a baseball game on TV all afternoon and I will probably not get out of my pajamas until supper time.  Heck, why not just stay in PJs until bedtime?

But, I am better now, thank you.

“Why is that, Larry?”

Nobody came to my party.  Pity parties are lonely affairs with no cake and ice cream nor gaily wrapped presents.  There is no music to dance to and the conversation is boring.  I choose to slouch in the chair with my chin drooping to my knees.  Between sobs and sighs of “I am so lonely, I am so unlovable, I don’t have enough, I am stupid, I am worthless,” my pity party just drags on ad nauseam until the last bag of Cheetos is gone and all the Twinkies are history.  Bingeing seemed like a great idea, but then I hate myself for breaking my diet and being such an emotional wimp.

Sound familiar?  Well, congratulations to me.  I did not stay at my own party.  The Cheetos and Twinkies are still on the cupboard shelf.  Today I shoved all those negative thoughts into the category of drinking thinking  – “poor me, poor me, yeah why don’t I just pour poor me another drink?”

Drinking thinking is akin to stinking thinking – 1st cousins, I believe.  Both will get any recovering addict into a world of do-do if he/she doesn’t take remedial steps pronto.  Do a gratitude list, call a friend (no, not a drinking buddy), start a housecleaning project, take a walk, do some exercises, find a meeting. Sometimes just moving to a different room in the house will get us over that initial “poor me, woe is me.”

“This too shall pass.”

Fighting those negative feelings without a drink or a drug was always challenging.  We are not normal people with normal emotions, probably never will be.  It is of utmost importance to keep our battle armor nearby – a plan, a chore in which to engage immediately, an inspiring book, the list of phone numbers, an escape route from social situations that tempt.  How about the easiest of all – a prayer to the God of our understanding?  Talk to him/her/it as if you are the best of friends because, whether you believe it or not, that God always has been, always is, always will be waiting to caress you and me, hold us in loving arms and get us through the “poor me” moments.

I will walk through the valleys of darkness, because that’s what humans must do to get to the light beyond the horizons.  Our God will guide us and protect us so that we can walk fearlessly on paths of comfort and blessing.  Over that next summit is an overflowing cup of joy and peace.  Go for it!  We are worthy and loved. UNSHACKLED 2

praise God from whom all blessings flow…

 

warm blankets on a cold nightCANDLE

hot tea in my favorite cup

Max the cat snuggled up against me

a woolen sock cap

mittens without holes

a good book to read

scan0005phone turned off

a good friend to sit with

chili in a cast iron pot on the stove

sobriety

freedom to speak freely

freedom to worship as I choose

food in the pantrysilver lining

roof over my head

God’s grace and mercy